FROM NATURE TO THE FACTORY
The path taken in the production of confectionary.
Brazil is recognized globally as a country with ideal conditions for producing food products, being one of the largest exporters in the world. One category which is currently gaining momentum in exportation is that of candies, gums, toppings and chocolates (confectionary). The opportunities are ample, considering that the global market stands at US$ 196.5 billion, and grows on average by 4% per year.
The origin of sweets is confused with that of its base ingredient: sugar. Its discovery dates back to the Persians, around 500 BC, when they found a plant named “the rose that gives honey without the work of bees”, which was in fact sugar cane. Brazilians inherited the taste and cultivation of sugar from the Portuguese who brought it to the country in the 16th Century. In the sugar farm kitchens, the ladies taught the slaves to correctly mix the ingredients. With the growth of its commercialization in the national market, the Portuguese recipes began to spread throughout the entire colony and became a part of the staple diet.
Today, the production of Brazilian sweets is vast and diversified and achieves international recognition. Manufacturers prioritize the raw material and the quality of production.
The Brazilian producer of premium chocolates, Aquim, for example, highlights the importance of the raw materials in the production process of its products. “From the beginning to end, the process is conducted by a maximum of 16 hands”, states Amanda Martins Trope, Marketing Executive for Aquim. The first step is the manual collection of cacao by the farm workers. A screening process is performed in this first step, whereby the fruits that do not meet the quality standards of the company are not used for the product.
After breaking the fruit, they remove the sweet white pulp, mixed with the seeds. This pulp is transported to the fermentation room. Similar to wine, the pulp is fermented in rounded tanks. It is this process which causes the cacao to change color from white to dark brown. Once fermented, the stone of the fruit becomes known as cacao nibs.
When fermentation is complete, the nibs pass through a drying process in the sun. This way, the water contained within evaporates and only the fruit flavor cacao juice remains, which was absorbed during fermentation. After drying in the sun, the nibs pass through a final classification and analysis stage by Chef Samantha Aquim, who personally selects which nibs will be used in the composition of each chocolate.
Banana Brasil, the snacks manufacturer from Santa Catarina, uses ingredients such as fruits, nuts and seeds and has ‘Banana Passa’ as one of their flagship products, which is completely natural, without any addition of sugar or additives, also have an intense and sustainable criteria for producing their products. The entire production process is manual and the employees are fundamental for the company to produce a high quality product.
“We buy green bananas from small producers in the region and we have full control over the natural maturation process of the fruit. The bananas, therefore, are peeled manually and dehydrated in a greenhouse. After dehydration, they are selected and packaged”, explains Vanessa Marinho, Marketing Executive at Banana Brasil, discussing the Banana Passa product.
She concludes that before commencing work at the company, the employees at Banana Brasil receive training and get to know the different sectors of the company. Furthermore, the company maintains a very close relationship with the banana producers and puts on regular technical events to ensure the quality of the fruit and the security of the rural worker.
Toffano, a company from Sao Paulo that produces and sells sweets from nougat to candies and lollipops, relying on 330 employees, give details about their manufacturing process too. “For its most popular products, the company utilizes raw materials from plant origin: sugar (which comes from sugar cane in Brazil) and glucose (which comes from corn), which are purchased from large produce companies”, highlights Marco Forte from the production department at the company.
According to Marco, everything begins with the mixing of sugar and glucose. These products are dissolved and cooked in barrels. When creating a filled candy, the temperature reaches 145° C. It’s this which causes the candy to be so hard. It takes around 10 minutes for the mixture to reach a homogeneous consistency, after which, the candy mixture is just needed and cooled, and then placed in machines to take on the correct shape. From there, the candy leaves ready to be packaged.